MIT’s Vice President for Human Resources Alison Alden has announced her plans to retire in the spring of 2014. Alden began working at MIT in 2007 and has made substantial contributions to MIT’s HR department. Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer, is “grateful to Alison for her seven years of exceptional service to MIT.”
When Alden first arrived on MIT’s campus, she recognized the importance of developing a full understanding of the faculty and staff.
“The first thing I did was listen to the culture and the people of MIT,” said Alden. “I went around campus asking faculty members what they thought MIT needed.”
Reaching out to employees has allowed Alden to recognize areas of improvement for MIT’s HR department and organize methods to enhance efficiency for the benefit of all employees.
As Vice President for Human Resources, Alden’s primary objective was to modernize HR processes. Alden valued providing excellent service to MIT’s vast and diverse body of customers, faculty, and staff.
“During her tenure, Alison has made significant contributions to transforming HR practices across campus,” said Ruiz. “She has a deep commitment to promoting an open and inclusive environment for all members of our community, and a genuine appreciation for MIT’s culture and values.”
Under Alden, the HR department launched an initiative to eliminate any and all ambiguity regarding benefits and compensation for employees and retirees. “I wanted to make sure that employees understand their benefits,” said Alden, so she optimized this communication process by implementing a routine for which all faculty and staff have access to compensation statements in paper and on-line. Alden also took action to make MIT’s retirement plans more cost-effective for the institute while ensuring long-term sustainability for employees. In 2012, she reformed the pension plans for new hires while preserving elements of the program that employees consider valuable, such as the 401(k) plan.
As part of her modernization initiatives, Alden increased the efficiency of the job application and hiring processes. She also implemented new methods to ensure that faculty and staff were trained effectively. “It’s important to make sure that managers and supervisors understand their roles,” stated Alden.
Looking to the future, Alden notes that modernization and optimization are continuous processes. “There is still modernizing that needs to be done,” said Alden. Going forward, she stresses that it is imperative that the HR department continues to maintain a comprehensive relationship with the faculty and staff at MIT. “Listen to the campus,” Alden advises, “understand its history and culture; enable the campus, without disrupting it.”
Paula Sammarco, Executive Assistant to Alden, said that “Alison will be sadly missed. Under Alden’s leadership, we were able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. HR is now aligned with the goals of the Institute and we are better positioned to meet the needs of the community. With this footprint, the HR leadership team is committed to moving forward while providing the best services possible to the community.”
Alden reflects that “it has been an honor to work here at MIT.” She plans to remain in close contact with the MIT community going forward. “We hope that she will remain connected to us as part of the MIT family,” said Ruiz.